JALAZOUN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank — Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces while thousands of Israelis flocked to rallies, all of them protesting an arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler — a rare instance of mutual shock in a land attuned to bitter violence.
Israel’s president implored the country to consider how the attack on Friday morning could have happened; Palestinians pointed to a widespread sense of impunity among Jewish extremists.
“A blatant disregard for the rule of law, for human dignity, for a love of mankind, for a love of Israel, and freedom of opinion has spread within us and is wreaking havoc,” President Reuven Rivlin of Israel said at a rally Saturday in Jerusalem.
Israeli political leaders swiftly called the firebombing an act of terrorism, a term usually reserved for Palestinian attacks against Israelis. Editorials in the Israeli news media said that condemnation would not be enough.
“The accumulation of unsolved hate crimes in the weeks, months and years before the Dawabsha attack would strongly suggest that Jewish terrorism has not been a top priority for Israel’s security establishment,” David Horovitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel, wrote in an op-ed in the newspaper. He added, “We had better ensure we act to prevent more of the same and worse.”
Palestinians said they were most angered that the assailants stood over the bodies of the couple as they burned, and did not save the children.
By Saturday evening, some sought revenge. Assailants suspected to be Palestinians hurled firebombs toward a Jewish settlement in Hebron, causing a fire in a community center, Israelis and Palestinians said. No injuries were reported.
Clashes erupted near Duma, where residents marched to a nearby main road to protest the attack in their village.
Soldiers fired tear gas at the demonstrators, and youths threw rocks and projectiles. An Israeli military spokeswoman said about 200 protesters near Duma hurled rocks and rolled burning tires at the Israeli forces.
“People are angry,” said Yaser Dawabsheh, 53, a resident of the village, where many residents share the family name. “A child melted in a fire before their eyes, and they did nothing.”
Clashes also took place here in the Jalazoun refugee camp, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. They followed the funeral of a teenager who died overnight from wounds suffered after he was shot in a protest Friday, where youths hurled rocks at Israeli forces.
Laith al-Khaldi, 17, was the sixth Palestinian to be fatally shot by Israeli security forces in recent weeks.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers fired at an assailant who had thrown a firebomb toward them. She said the shooting was “in response to immediate danger.”
Few shootings ever lead to prosecutions, and Palestinians and their advocates say that has led to a lack of accountability among Israeli forces.
“The Israeli government has given the opportunity for settlers and the army to attack, and that is making the lives of Palestinians hell,” said Ghassan Khatib, vice president of Birzeit University in the West Bank.
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(via NY Times)